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Gang Leader Turned Death Row Chaplain

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
February 24, 2023 3:04 am

Gang Leader Turned Death Row Chaplain

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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February 24, 2023 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Earl Smith is an unlikely gangbanger-turned chaplain at America's largest death row prison in San Quentin, CA.

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That's OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And now our own Alex Cortez brings us the voice of someone who's worked at the highest levels of two radically different yet similar jobs.

But you might not have expected it giving this beginning, this very early start of his life. There was this lady named O.C. Pittsfield that was allowed to come into our home and she became the lady that cared for me and took care of me. Instead of this Stockton kid, Earl Smith's mom. As a result of that, I really bonded with O.C. Pittsfield, who I call Grandmama. And she was like the protector for me.

My dad worked three jobs and he was my best friend and he still is, even though he's passed away. And in the midst of all of that, as I grew up, I felt a sense of rejection, especially around a memory of when he was four years old and he was sitting with his mom and her friends. And Earl noticed that the bottle for the newborn baby sitting on one of the lady's lamps was empty and being told, shut up fool, for what he said.

I said that baby ain't got no milk. And, you know, being slapped, being embarrassed to the point that I wet my pants because the women and the women are laughing. I got slapped and I'm this little kid. And I felt like, wow, it was a horrible feeling to be laughed at. I don't know what age people can go back and remember things from, but when you're four years old and you can remember an incident like that, that puts a print.

It stamps something into your memory, into that memory bank that it just doesn't go away. And what I did not realize was my mom had her own stuff in her box and she was trying to deal with her stuff. And I was part of the stuff that she wasn't quite sure how to maneuver through. A young lady in the South, married to an older man, not of your own choice. And as a result of that, that guy is abusive to you. And so she ran away from him and she wasn't even 16 years old through all of this. And then she marries again. And she's married my dad. She has two daughters and a son and things are okay.

Then she's pregnant with me. You know, my mom in actuality, in hindsight, had every reason in the world to be upset about this kid that shows up three and a half years after she finally quit having kids. She's in her early twenties and finally getting ready to have some kind of life after all these years.

And the cycle is getting ready to repeat. She's going to have to take care of this child. Her freedom is going to be hindered once again. It's almost like she's going to be shackled once again. And I represented shackles in my opinion, as I think back on it, I represented shackles to her. And if I in fact represented shackles to her, her response to who I was was justified.

Because when you're oppressed or shackled, the one thing you want to do is get out of the shackles or get away from the oppression. So my mom did not have the opportunity just to be a young girl, a young lady. I mean, only later did I find that out. But when you're a kid, you don't know that. You don't know what your parents have gone through. And here you are. And you're feeling total rejection because you're a kid and all you want is to feel some kind of compassion, some kind of love.

And you think you're not getting it. Yet what I realized after the fact is she was giving me the best she had. And at least he had OC until his mom decided that he wouldn't have her either. I love this lady beyond reason. And then one day I come home and she's not there. And I'm like, where is she?

Put her out. What does that mean? What does that mean that she's not going to be here at night when I lay down? What does it mean that that lady who was my one safety net, what does it mean when they say that she's no longer going to be available? You don't understand what that, you really have to understand what that lady meant to me. She, man, she was, she was my answer. She's not here and you don't go look for her.

What does that mean? Don't go look for her. You know, if you lose a million dollars, you're going to look for it. And she was worth much more than a million dollars to me. So I found out where she lived. And the word was, if you go there and you find, if you don't come straight home from school, you know, you're going to get a spanking. So I weighed the two options.

Be around her for a little while and feel the love that she had for me. And get a spanking or just come home and not get a spanking. I chose the spanking.

I chose it. I fully understood when I got home because I was coming home late, I was going to get a spanking, but I didn't care. And that's the other thing. You start as a kid to say, I don't care. And that can take you to some really dark places.

It can really take you to dark places when you realize as a very young age, I don't care. We had University Pacific that was in Stockton and we'd go over there and find a bike and ride home on it. You know, from the bicycle, you were still a car. Because you could steal a bike, you could steal a car.

Stabbed a guy that was actually a friend of mine at eight years old and just doing crazy things as a way, basically, to let this anger that I felt out. And I didn't understand it. Kids don't understand why they do what they do until later in life, you find out, oh, that's what they call that.

That's why you did that. And you're listening to Earl Smith and what a remarkable voice he has. And straight as an arrow, he's telling the story as he recalls it now. And with real compassion, when we come back, we'll continue with Earl Smith's story.

And as always, we cover these stories about love and the lack thereof, because, well, it defines a life, particularly love's absence. Earl Smith's story continues here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country. Stories from our big cities and small towns.

But we truly can't do this show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to our American stories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot.

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Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. Hi there, I'm Dr. John White WebMD's chief medical officer and host of the Spotlight on Series from the Health Discovered podcast. In this special episode, we dive into plaque psoriasis, the difficulties, the misconceptions, and the treatment options available. What does it take to get patients to clear skin? Well, if you have a relatively limited case of psoriasis, for example scalp psoriasis, and you put the clovetazole solution on your scalp twice a day in three days you see dramatic improvement in the psoriasis. Now if you're covered with psoriasis topical therapy is not reasonable.

With an injection once every two or three months you have like a 50% chance of being completely clear and probably a 90% chance of being nearly completely clear. Listen to Health Discovered on the I Heart Radio app or wherever you get your podcasts. And we continue with our American stories and with Earl Smith's story. Feeling abandoned by his mom, Earl tried to fill this hole in his heart and fill it with crime. The other thing my dad did for me was he took me to a field one day I must have been like hate or die and he takes his pistol out and he puts some stuff out and he starts shooting and hitting this stuff he says you want to try and when I put that pistol in my hand and I fired it I cannot believe how that felt to me to fire that gun and it was all the the addiction of the sound of a gun in my hand is something I have not forgotten even to this day and it became a very bad thing that he considered to be a good thing he was doing but it was a bad thing that I felt so great about the sound of that gun and it being in my hand because I was already at eight or nine years old I was already committed to being doing aberrant things I was already committed to being different than other people in my household I was already committed I did not have a problem with the streets I did have a problem with crime at eight or nine years old and the gun part was just power I knew how to I learned how to shoot a gun I learned what it sounded like when I shot it and for me that was a power so I'm not saying that it was wrong that it was wrong that he did it because he didn't understand what feeling that gave me the first time I did it it's almost like if you use drugs if you if you shoot dope you're not going to remember what it felt like everyone says hey you want to get high so you get high and the reason you become addicted is because you keep trying to chase the first high you had and for me my addiction was keeping keep chasing the feeling of the first time I fired that gun I mean one time a guy almost my dad and I were in the street and this guy swerves this car like he's trying to hit us my dad jumps out the way I grab and you know it's like the guy is laughing and hooting and hollering as he goes down the street my dad goes to get the gun I take the gun from him and uh I hide it again then I find the guy and we lived by the railroad tracks and I just I mean I beat the guy I left him on the tracks to get hit by a train because of what he had done to my dad and I kept the gun and I told everybody I got this gun if anybody moves them I'm gonna shoot you. Earl was also a gang member a pretty big drug dealer around U.S. Route 99 and a college student. You know part of the part of this 99 corridor deal is you go from Turlock all the way to Sacramento and if you can have a drug trade through that whole corridor back in the day you're really being successful we had an apartment in Turlock we had one in Modesto we had one in Stockton and you had people that lived in Sacramento and every weekend we'd go to different cities for the parties and we'd do all of that but we developed this quarter so Stanislaus State, San Joaquin Delta College, Sac City College, people were at different schools and so everybody was really really educated really smart it wasn't just that we were crazy people it was we were pretty smart so we're all in school and we're all doing different things I think all of us end up getting our degrees at least on bachelor degrees and from there we you know some of us have advanced degrees but we were okay but so it was almost like we were a group that did two things and somewhere in the midst of that. Earl would visit his old nanny who we considered a grandmother, Osi. The thing that was so great about this lady was that she never moved more than half a mile away from our house she always found someone that would let her rent a room that she would be close by me she was that person until she went into the nursing home she was still living that close to that house I grew up in when she finally was in the nursing home and you know here's the deal when you're when you're a criminal when you're committing crime you know yeah yeah for me I tell people all the time you know there's a difference in gang membership and gang banging and gang banging is when you're actually in the process of the stuff membership is what you're a part of and I could separate the two I tell people yes I'm a gang member because that's what I was that's what my commitment is that doesn't change I don't bang so when I went to see my grandmother as a when I was much younger it didn't change that I was a part of a gang I would always make sure I had a haircut I'd always make sure that I looked presentable and I would always make sure that when I went to see her I planned to spend time with her and I would not be in a hurry to leave I did not want to disrespect her so I may have done something the night before but if I it was always like almost like a calendar I knew when it was time to go see her if I went more than two weeks it was a problem sometimes the junk had to pause because she was still a priority because if if she didn't know I was okay it would trouble her beyond measure and yet he put himself into situations that could trouble her well I've been off at the golf course of 19 years old and we were doing a big deal so we went out to the golf course so we could sort of talk about it where no one we knew no one was around because we knew we were being followed and watched so my gun was in my golf bag other gun was over in my bed and so I but the world series is on so I have to get home in time to watch the game so I leave my clubs in the car and run in the house and I turn the tv on knock on the door guy says I came to pay you he owed me some money and he was late and so I put the word out whenever you see him let him know and I said I'm not going to ever you see him let him know that he owes me he's late and I got to deal with him once again I knew the guy I knew the kid I started him off selling and now business dictated that because you didn't handle your part of it I got to do something to you and you know what that meant so then he gets someone along with some other people and they convince this other person okay if you kill him the problem will be solved so this guy stevie comes I don't even know the guy never seen him before in my life but he's with this guy that owed me the money and they come in I said well sit down because I'm watching a game and I needed to really process what I was going to have I had to do something I sort of liked the guy but I knew I had to do something because personally I liked him business dictated I had to do something to him and as I'm sitting there he sort of makes a motion like he's pulling the trigger with a finger and the guy he's with while I'm watching the world series he just gets up and takes a gun and starts shooting me and so no gun up under my couch no gun no gun in the living room so now I'm dodging trying to dodge bullets and I grab a coffee table the bullet goes through a coffee table it hits me and he has six bullets in the gun he hits me all six times I'm shot in my face my neck my shoulder my back my back because I'm sort of turning and spinning and one bullet goes in and comes back out so I have seven holes in me and then he stands on me clicking the gun and the guy that brought him there said come on let's go he's done and they walk away and it doesn't get more compelling than this folks you're seeing it you're feeling it you're hearing it from Earl Smith the consequence of many bad decisions and the consequence of the abandonment of love from a young man and these are the things that happen these are the stories that you hear here regularly and we tell them not to depress you and not to do anything that ultimately inspire when we come back you're going to hear the redemption story to follow and it is remarkable because how one rises from this circumstance my goodness it's there is no worse circumstance perhaps than the one this young man is facing and by the way the way he was able to separate his life out and go see Osi and just just sort of man up and straighten up but then right back to the pull of that life the only life he knew the only life that was organized around any kind of meaning camaraderie or all the other things we've heard countless times hear stories from gang members who say that that's the love they did not get from their family when we continue earl smith's story here on our american stories ready to play some tennis let's do it are you gonna put your phone away no roto makes it so easy to buy a car i could do both at once it's really that easy yeah with the roto app i can shop thousands of cars from local dealers buy the one i want right from my phone and have it delivered to my house for free i'm gonna try it not a good idea jim downloading the app now and i dropped my phone download the roto app or check out roto.com when you're not playing a sport the easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone this february xfinity flex is unlocking premium entertainment for you to try every single week no strings attached celebrate during black history month with shows like unsung the decades snuggle up during valentine's day with a lifetime movie club pic like harry and megan of royal romance or crank up the action with godfather of harlem from mgm plus get down and funky with the classic soul playlist from i heart radio easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming app say free this week into your xfinity voice remote hi there i'm dr john white webmd's chief medical officer and host of the spotlight on series from the health discovered podcast in this special episode we dive into plaque psoriasis the difficulties the misconceptions and the treatment options available what does it take to get patients to clear skin well if you have a relatively limited case of psoriasis for example scalp psoriasis and you put the clovetazol solution on your scalp twice a day in three days you see dramatic improvement in the psoriasis now if you're covered with psoriasis topical therapy is not reasonable with an injection once every two or three months you have like a 50 chance of being completely clear and probably a 90 chance of being nearly completely clear listen to health discovered on the i heart radio app or wherever you get your podcasts and we continue with our american stories and with gang member earl smith's story finally being on the receiving end of gunfire the other part that really was sort of weird when you're on the other end of the gun when you're firing it and you feel the vibration in your hand as you pull the trigger and the sound sort of travels through your hand through your arm up into your ears and into your heart the sound of a gun when you shoot it actually almost it seems like for me it was hitting my heart and it became part of that but now i'm getting shot and i know exactly like how some people must have felt when you get shot it's just like you have a poker a hot poker that's been sitting in fire that is poked into different parts of your body the only thing i kept thinking is i need water i'm hot i'm burning up i'm burning up i need water i need water it was just like these hot pokers were like in my face there were hot pokers where i've been shot and in my neck there's hot pokers and my chin there's hot i'm just like someone has taken a branding iron poker and poked it all the way into me so it went through me and it stopped at a point and that point is stopped at it's like i'm on fire but i'm not on fire in one spot i'm on fire in a lot of spots at the same time and it it's almost like you would take a flame and put it inside of someone's body and allow it to continue to burn i mean think about this so the police have me under surveillance they're getting ready to bust me so they're on a corner and i'm marked car these guys come in i'm shot numerous times my neighbor said they didn't know if it was firecrackers or what was going on they could just hear bam bam bam bam and then they leave and they walk out still under surveillance on the corner over there i get up i knock on my neighbor's door and say can you call the police i've been shot she starts screaming she calls the police they're there no time at all because they're you know wow of course they're going to be there in no time at all they come in they walk right past me they don't say a word to me they start going through my house then they leave another another set comes in and the lady miss lorraine says well where's the ambulance and i heard them tell her lady if you want an ambulance for him you call them they were so and that's the thing that people don't understand there comes a point when even the authorities get tired of you they get tired of what you're getting away with and at some point they believe that death is the easiest thing to deal with because they no longer have to deal with a person like me so she had to call the ambulance and i'm on this gurney and they they make it real clear that uh i'm not going to make it they make it very clear and i just need to tell the police who shot me i wasn't going to tell i had no intention of telling and dr morrissey says i don't know what's wrong with you people it was another person that was laying on the gurney in his emergency room and the police were saying tell us who did it it was like and it's sort of crazy but it's not crazy i'd rather die and least they could say he didn't tell wow man what a great name he went to the grave without telling what what kind of badge is that what badge did you get for that uh but when you grow up a certain way that's what you believe in me saying i'm gonna die or whatever here's the deal about that that i tell people i deserve to die for what the things i was involved in the things that i had done up to that point i fully understood i deserved it and i deserved what the doctor said i deserved that i deserved whatever would have taken place in that day because i had worked because i had worked really hard to get to that point my dad comes in and he asked dr morrissey how bad is he he says he ain't he's not gonna make it and my dad grabs him around the collar very gently but he pulls him close to him and he pulled him close to me he says doc you better do what you do best and i'm gonna go do what i do best he left me on that gurney but he left me to go pray with the understanding that that doctor's job was to help me if you think you think about my dad having this significant name in the community his dad was a union leader chief of police knows who he is john mcfall whose majority whipping congress back in those days would come to the house and visit with my dad and i called him uncle john and senators kranz and i a coward they would come because they needed my dad's support for stuff so he was significant but when i got shot my dad said son this is bad we're gonna make it he said son you're a rebel but you're god's rebel and we're gonna get through this he didn't say you he said we're that was the love he had for me he was wounded because i was wounded and i wasn't going to get through it we were going to get through it that was the day that's my dad and in between those exits of the doctor going back wherever he went and my dad going to pray and there i'm just laying there all you know i'm laying there waiting to die that's what they're waiting on me to die and then this voice says to me you're not going to die and have something for you to do i started laughing the something must be a chaplain and sanguine the prison that's home to the largest death row in america that's what he told me so i'm sort of shaking down and they have these monitors on me and the doctor comes in i said doc if i tell you where the bullets are will it help now remember my dad's over there praying he's nowhere at this point now but he's praying and the doctor says no i said so i pointed at my nose i said it's one it's right here and the bleeding stops and as i started to point to where the bullets were the bleeding stopped i believe the combination of that doctor leaving the voice of the lord telling me i'm not gonna die i have something for you to do with my dad awake praying he had enough confidence in who god was that he could talk to god and trust that god was going to take care of this his son that was a rebel and that's he so he he was not afraid to leave because he had confidence so a guy could do what he could only do best and three days later my dad picks me up from the hospital parks the car that gets me in the car and you think that was cool my dad can go back to what he's doing no you know what my dad did every day after that until i got up and strong enough my dad sat in a chair at the door of my bedroom and every time i woke up i saw my dad sitting there when it's gone now when i slept i don't know what he did but i can tell you this when i was awoke my dad would sit when i look he would be in that chair he was guarding me he's making sure that this thing didn't happen again and that was my dad and after all the embarrassments i'd done i was embarrassed i did some crazy things and my dad kept loving me in spite of it kept loving me dad kept loving me in spite of it kept loving me and what a story you're hearing i'm on fire like taking flames and putting them inside a body he said describing what it feels like to get shot and he recalled being on that gurney who are not thinking he was going to make it i deserve to die he said i deserved whatever would have taken place on that day and there was his dad a prayer warrior when i got shot dad said we're gonna make it you're a rebel but you're god's rebel we're gonna make it and that we folks that we meant so much to this boy i did some crazy things in my life but my dad kept loving me in spite of it when we come back more of this remarkable story earl smith's story and my goodness what every dad can learn listening to this story as well and mom this is our american stories excuse me did you know that when you use the roto app to buy a car roto actually finds all the secret available rebates and discounts specific to you so the price i see is my unique price that's right the lowest and best does roto do this for every customer or just customers named catherine well that depends wait how do you spell catherine k-a-t-h just kidding it's for every customer get every rebate and discount available and say big on your next car with roto download the roto app or check out roto com this february xfinity flex is unlocking premium entertainment for you to try every single week no strings attached celebrate during black history month with shows like unsung the decades snuggle up during valentine's day with a lifetime movie club pick like harry and megan a royal romance or crank up the action with godfather of harlem from mgm plus get down and funky with the classic soul playlist from i heart radio easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming app say free this week into your xfinity voice remote hi there i'm dr john white webmd's chief medical officer and host of the spotlight on series from the health discovered podcast in this special episode we dive into plaque psoriasis the difficulties the misconceptions and the treatment options available what does it take to get patients to clear skin well if you have a relatively limited case of psoriasis for example scalp psoriasis and you put the clovet as a solution on your scalp twice a day in three days you see dramatic improvement in the psoriasis now if you're covered with psoriasis topical therapy is not reasonable with an injection once every two or three months you have like a 50 chance of being completely clear and probably a 90 chance of being nearly completely clear listen to health discovered on the i heart radio app you'll find a link to the health discovered on the i heart radio app or wherever you get your podcasts and we continue with our american stories and with gang member earl smith's story after shot earl says he heard the voice of god and it led him to head to bishop college in dallas to study religion and become a prison chaplain but his counselors there told him that this goal was unrealistic given his criminal background so they advised him to take a job with the boy scouts of america people that say well that god voice thing is crazy it didn't happen let me let here's what i need them to understand in october of 1975 god says to me you're not going to die you're going to be a chaplain in san quentin prison i'll tell you how god works i'm at a i'm at a service club for kawanas buzz brewer who worked for the salvation army as a correctional chaplain he says hey didn't you say you wanted to be a prison chaplain i said yeah you know how you do an introduction at the kwanis clubs to tell who you are what you're interested in and he remembered that he says well there's an opening in san quentin uh you should apply he says now they said they're going to hire this other guy but at least you could apply and i said okay he comes back three weeks later says hey did you ever apply i said nah not yet i'm gonna get around to it he says i didn't think so here's the application fill it out i fill the application out i get a response from the state personnel board and it says dear reverend smith i'm sorry to inform you that you do not meet the minimum requirements for the position i ball it up throw the paper down and the voice of the lord says once again call up a mass of what you need to do it's a test i unball the paper i call this number on the paper there's a silent voice on the other end and then the lady says reverend smith we're very sorry we sent you the wrong letter you are qualified well i was qualified at 75 the night i got shot and he said that's what i was gonna do i get the new letter i go to the interview the guy that they're gonna hire says are you here for san quentin i said yeah he says well you can forget it they've already promised me the job well here's the way it worked he worked there for five and a half months on probation and then they decided not to hire him and when they decided not to hire him they then called me and asked me was i still interested the guy that they decided not to hire became a volunteer that i trained and he became a phenomenal chaplain and we both agreed it was not that he was not qualified to be a chaplain he was just at a place that god had already reserved for me so whatever you say about the voice exactly what i told people god said is what happened so when you put it all together wouldn't you believe that god you'd have to believe that voice too wouldn't you and when i'm hired to go to work there i remember walking into the chapel and i look around as i'm walking in i see a guy making a drug transaction over by the bathroom i see something else taking place and then i realize thank you god this is where i need to be because everything i saw i could understand so i started going out and talking to guys i talked i had no problem talking to gang leaders that was the that was the training i had and you know then that december of my first year that i'm still six months in i still haven't done my six months probation i'm giving out christmas cards and on my unit and i'm giving these christmas cards out and i saw a guy once when he shot me i saw him once in court i didn't testify against him because i wanted to kill him and i won't but i needed him on the street and the third time i see this guy in my entire life he's now on the second tier of north block in san quentin and no one knows he's the guy that shot me and i don't know that he's there till i'm giving out christmas cards and i remember and i'm only telling the story because it's part of what god can do in bringing things to pass and making clarity out of rough situations you think that you're okay you think that god has really gotten you smooth i'm a chaplain now what so what if i was a drug dealer so what if i'm a gang member so what if i've done all that other stuff god has blessed me beyond measure then all of a sudden here's what happens i see this guy and when i see this guy i realize i really had not forgiven him i was angry i looked at him he jumped away from the bars he said hey man uh i got shot too because i knew that a guy knew shot him the guy that shot him recently died in prison he was doing a life sentence so he gets away from the bars i keep on giving out these christmas cards and i'm crying now because i realize i really have not forgiven this guy and now he's in a situation all i need to do is tell somebody from home that's the guy that shot me and it's a done deal and i was thinking god why would you make me feel i was okay that everything was all right to get me to this point to get me to this point now and i'm gonna have him killed i mean you think about this you learn about all these things if you go to college or seminary and forgiveness is this and you release it you forgive and you forget how many times you heard forgive and forgive well it sounds good but when you're confronted by that thing that's caused you harm or pain is when you realize do you forgive and even when in the midst of your forgiveness have you really forgotten for me it was not only had i not forgiven but it was forgetting about it was for removed because when i saw him i realized that he had got away with doing something to me that i had not retaliated for and i'm a chaplain and i'm thinking like that and i'm like thinking god why did you let me get here to think like this that was the kind of thinking thinking that i had when i was in the world and here i was thinking that same way as soon as i saw and it was it was a very scary moment for me and that's why i just cried i was just like what is going on why would you let this guy be here why would you allow me to be confronted with him knowing that i really had not forgiven why would you make me think i forgave him you ever have a conversation with god where you're trying to rationalize what you're dealing with and and it's almost like you're angry with god because you can't understand why god would make you feel like you were further along than you really are and you're troubled by the fact that you're not as for as long as you thought you were and that's when i saw that guy that's where i was the thing that's so great about god is he takes you to the end and calls you to have to pass over that thing to get back off sometimes you get to the end and to get away you have to go back or pass the thing that you crossed over on the journey and as i go back in front of this guy look at him and i said i need to say something to you and he's he's terrified basically i said i need to thank you because god used you to get to be i don't even know where those words came from i left there i went to my chapel i sat down in my chair in my office i just started crying well what i didn't know is he wrote a letter to the warden and says you've got to get me out this prison the chaplain's going to have me killed so they called me in for investigation they said do you know this guy i said yeah i just realized he's here well he wrote this letter saying you're going to have him killed and i said and it was george jackson who was the associate warden that was over that was my boss and i said mr jackson i'll tell you this right now today this is the safest place that guy will ever be because he because he's not a threat to me the only thing i want him to know is who jesus is and he looks at me remember i'm on probation they could have did me like they did leonard and just say okay go home we're not gonna hire you but you know what they did this is the week of christmas they put him in a special transport and sent him to another prison so i could stay there now what if i would have had any other reaction other than the one i had when i encountered him and i believe that was another test because from there god just he did so many amazing things at that prison amazing things but what happens with that test if i say well you know what i'm gonna have my people get to you i'm gonna have my people do this to you or something like that what if i did that but instead i said what god had placed on my heart to say to him and i believe that was the reason why i was able to stay at san quentin because i i passed that test and you're listening to earl smith's story and those words he heard on october of 1975 god says to me you're not going to die you're going to be a chaplain at san quentin prison and it happened by the way there's so much by the way there's so much more to earl smith's story that you can read about in his powerful book titled death row chaplain unbelievable true stories from america's most notorious prison get it at amazon.com today and at the very beginning of the story we teased that earl worked at the highest levels of two radically different and yet similar jobs one as a chaplain for san quentin's prisoners and the other as the chaplain for millionaire athletes or was the chaplain for the san francisco giants and he is still the chaplain for the golden state warriors and the 49ers but millionaire athletes and prisoners often come from the very same neighborhoods and are dealing with the very same human brokenness that affect us all earl smith's story here on our american story how are you spending your weekend with friends and family or at the car dealership why lease 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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-24 04:32:02 / 2023-02-24 04:50:03 / 18

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